It is Time for Tapas

Torrevieja is a resort town full of parks, plazas and an array of restaurants and shops... and beaches.

Our home town of Torrevieja is a resort town full of parks, plazas and an array of restaurants and shops… and beaches.

Spring in Torrevieja is a delightful time of year. The crisp breezes blowing off the continent and the brisk on-shore winds have given way to the bright sunshine and warmer days that demand we leave our jackets behind when we take a walk. People are heading to the beaches with their folding chairs and beach towels ahead of the crowds still to come when people seek refuge from the blazing heat of summer. The seasonal shops and restaurants are opening all over town. It is a time to celebrate spring. It is time for tapas.

Our first stop was Las Salinas, a favorite stop for families.  Their Magra de Ibérica was like a delicious stew.

First stop – Las Salinas, an open air favorite spot for families. Their Magra de Ibérica was a delicious stew made with veal.

This year Torrevieja, Spain, is celebrating its 10th Rutas de Las Tapas, or what we English-speakers would call a ‘Tapas Crawl.’ What are tapas? Tapas can be practically anything from a chunk of tuna, cocktail onion and an olive skewered on a long toothpick to a hot meat with sauce served in a miniature clay dish – or anything in between. Tapas are served day in and day out in every bar and café in Spain. They are so much a part of the culture and social scene that the Spanish people invented the verb tapear which means to go eat tapas!¹

Tu Aroma offered a piece of fried cod served over a zucchini wrap of peppers and onions; also a grilled meat in a chocolate mole sauce.

Tu Aroma offered a piece of fried cod served over a zucchini wrap of peppers and onions, plus a grilled meat in a chocolate mole sauce.

Fifty-six restaurants are each offering two tapas from which to choose during weekend one and two different tapas during weekend two. The weekends run from Thursday through Sunday and are available at either lunch or dinner time. The tapas are offered in addition to regular menu items and are advertised as standard or gourmet as determined by the restaurant. Standard tapas sell for 2€ and gourmet items sell for 2.5€, equal to $2.80 and $3.50, and include a choice of beverage. I ordered beer. Florence chose bottled water.

The Mediterranean Café offer this baked dish made with chicken and potatoes.  The second tapa was skewered 'sepia' which is Spanish for cuttlefish - similar to squid.

The Mediterranean Café offer this baked dish made with chicken and potatoes. The second tapa was skewered ‘sepia’ which is Spanish for cuttlefish – similar to squid.

No one has to pay an entry fee. All that is required to participate in the Tapas Crawl is a few Euros, a good appetite and good walking shoes. Even though there are participating restaurants are all over town, most are concentrated downtown near the ocean shore. People are allowed to vote for their favorite tapas once they have sampled at least ten options at no fewer than five restaurants.

Taj Mahal offered tapas Indian-style - deep fried vegetable mix that put onion rings to shame, and a shrimp roll made with sweet potato that was our favorite so far.

Taj Mahal offered tapas Indian-style – deep fried vegetable mix that put onion rings to shame, and a shrimp roll made with sweet potato that was our favorite so far.

We visited four restaurants on a sunny Sunday afternoon, and we ordered both of the tapas offered at each stop, so that was about 5€ times four, a total of 20€ for the two of us to sample eight varieties of Spanish cuisine including tips and beverages. That was a pretty good deal. We are already thinking ahead to weekend number two, and one stop we passed on our way home is already at the top of our list. We were too full to sit at La Mila-Grossa, an Argentine restaurant. However, we ordered some of their empañadas to take home for dinner, and that was a fantastic gastronomic conclusion to our first Tapas Crawl.

¹From ‘What are tapas?’ by Lisa and Tony Sierra on About.com
Note: All photos are the copyrighted property of Florence Lince.
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14 comments on “It is Time for Tapas

  1. Mike, This Tapas Crawl sounds fabulous! I’m so envious. James and I are both “tapas hounds” and love trying new concoctions. The Indian tapas are a great new twist. They always give us ideas for things we can try making at home, but at those prices it’s much more fun to go out. :) ~Terri

    • Mike Lince says:

      The tapas event is perfectly suited to taking guests for a walk around town. The food and drink are an ample reward for not much expense of energy and money. It was just the thing for us to get off our butts and enjoy more of our new home town which is still in its sleepy phase. From what I have been told, Easter is the launch date for everything to pick up. We are enjoying this tranquil period while we can during perfect walking weather. – Mike

  2. I love going out for tapas!! There’s a great tapas restaurant in Boston that Paul and I used to go to. Hmmm….I’ve never been to a tapas restaurant since going vegan. Maybe it wouldn’t be the same now (unless, of course, we found a vegan tapas restaurant). Celeste :)

    • Mike Lince says:

      We are on the lookout for the vegetarian options. La Milla-Grossa has a spinach ravioli that we are looking forward to trying this weekend. There must be vegan tapas out there. We will find them and share with you and Paul for sure!! – Mike

  3. jimhornnews says:

    A great post Mike. Each region of Spain features different ingredients. In the Basque country they call them pintxos (pinchos) and insist they are different from tapas but they aren’t, just different ingredients. They are fabulous in San Sebastian, my favorite city in Spain. Here are some recipes.
    http://www.gourmandbreaks.com/blog/pinchos-recipes-from-san-sebastian/
    Be sure to take some recipes with you to your next destination because they will never be the same as in Spain.

    • Mike Lince says:

      I have seen some items called pinchos. They are items made of ground meat, like little meatballs. I did not know about the tapas of the same name. I appreciate the link to the recipes, both for my sake as well as for any interested readers. Thank you as always for your comments and great suggestions. We will have to look into more information about San Sebastian. Right now we are planning our excursions to Granada, Seville and Cordoba, all of which I consider “must-see” places while we are in Spain.
      Feliz Pascua, Jim!

  4. reocochran says:

    I love tapas! Miniature meals and plates make the food so appealing that you order more! I also appreciate that you featured a variety of cultures and also, dishes here, Mike! I need to head home for lunch very soon! My stomach is growling…. Smiles, Robin

  5. […] was the final week of the Tapas Crawl, the 10th Annual Ruta de Las Tapas. We set out for the town center to check out the annual Book Fair on the downtown waterfront. […]

  6. By my calculations, the tapas crawl (tapear) is over and I don’t have to drop everything and get there! While wonderful writing, and of course fabulous photos… it seems cruel to put all of this good stuff out there– leaving folks like me… hungry! This all looks so yummy, Mike. No doubt, you and Florence really chose well, with your most recent home base! Scotland is but a vague memory, by now… I hope. ;-)

    • Mike Lince says:

      Dawn, I only wanted readers to know we are not suffering terribly during our stay in Spain thanks to fair weather and good food. I did not intend to cause drooling or inflict cruelty with this story.

      The events that overshadowed our Scotland experience are a distant memory. Our focus remains looking forward as always. Thanks for taking time to catch up and comment. The link you provide to our home in the PNW is more precious than you may know. Amor y besos – Mike

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